Achilles Tendinopathy can be quite painful, sometimes debilitating and stand in the way of living our lives. Find out what you can do for Achilles Tendon Pain,

Achilles tendinopathy is a common condition that affects athletes and active individuals. It is a condition that causes pain and discomfort in the Achilles tendon, which is located at the back of the ankle. Fortunately, exercise physiology offers a range of treatment options that can help alleviate the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy. Today, we will explore the use of exercise physiology for the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy.

What is Achilles Tendinopathy?

Achilles tendinopathy is a condition that affects the Achilles tendon, which is the largest tendon in the body. It is a common condition among athletes and active individuals, and it is often caused by overuse or repetitive stress on the tendon, with inappropriate amounts of rest.

Individuals that rapidly increase their exercise volume & intensity may also place themselves at a higher risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy.

Common Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include:

    • Pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon, especially in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity
    • Swelling and tenderness around the Achilles tendon
    • A creaking or crackling sound when the tendon is moved or stretched
    • In some cases throbbing

How Exercise Physiology Can Help

Exercise physiology is the study of the physiological and metabolic responses to physical activity. It is a field that focuses on how exercise & movement can be used to improve health and fitness, rehabilitate injury, prevent and treat disease, and enhance athletic performance.

In the case of Achilles tendinopathy, exercise physiology can be used to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that includes:

1. Eccentric Exercises

Eccentric exercises are a type of exercise that involves lengthening the muscle while it is under tension. Eccentric exercises have been shown to be an effective treatment for Achilles tendinopathy. The goal of eccentric exercises is to strengthen the Achilles tendon and improve its ability to withstand stress.

Examples of eccentric exercises for Achilles tendinopathy include:

    • Eccentric calf raises: Stand on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Raise up onto your toes, and then slowly lower your heels down below the level of the step (if not tolerated on the step, perform flat floor).

2. Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises are a type of exercise that involves contracting the muscle without moving the joint. Isometric exercises can be used to improve the strength of the Achilles tendon without putting excessive stress on the tendon. Isometric exercise is a great option if dynamic exercise is not yet tolerated.

Examples of isometric exercises for Achilles tendinopathy include:

    • Wall sits: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slide down the wall until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, and hold this position for 30 seconds.
    • Single-leg balance: Stand on one leg and hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

3. Gradual Progression

A gradual progression of exercise is essential for the successful treatment of Achilles tendinopathy. Gradual progression involves starting with low-intensity exercises and gradually increasing the intensity and duration of exercise over time.

It is important to consult with an exercise physiologist or a healthcare professional before starting an exercise

4. Gross Load Management

Since Achilles Tendinopathy is in its essence an overuse injury, over load management is needed. When we talk load management we are referring analysing your overall loading of the affected area, the Achilles, and ensuring it is not currently being over-loaded.

This will allow us to ensure that it has sufficient time to recover & repair damage collagen fibres, increase strength and return to a normal functioning tendon.

Examples of Load Management include:

    • Monitoring your overall physical activity and Achilles loading, including sports training, gym training, the physical demands of your occupation, other leisurely loading such as walking/running etc
    • Modifying overall gross volume of loading on your Achilles and ensuring sufficient time to promote effective recovery. For example, ensuring there is sufficient exercise recovery, and appropriate levels of activity based on symptoms, and symptom response to exercise.

Exercising with Pain?

Interestingly, it is expected to experience an increase in pain following exercising in Achilles tendinopathy rehab. A couple useful guidelines to work with:

Acceptable Pain during Achilles Rehab ✅

    • Pain that is tolerable/bearable, both during completing exercise and following exercise. (meaning it is not interfering with other activities, and you deem it an acceptable amount of pain to work with).
    • Subsides to Baseline level of pain within 48hours of completing exercise exercise.

Not Acceptable Pain during Achilles Rehab

    • Pain that is not tolerated or unbearable, either during or following exercising (pain at the intensity it is interfering with activities of daily living, or a level of pain you deem is too high)
    • Pain that lasts for 72hours or longer after completing exercise.

Did you know: Achilles Tendon Rehab has better outcomes when loading to a point of Acceptable Pain, such as mentioned above. This means that your recovery will be faster, your Achilles will be stronger and that your chance of re-injury will be lower if you have tolerable pain up to 48 hours following exercising the Achilles.

If you are experiencing Achilles tendinopathy, we recommend speaking with a qualified exercise physiologist to develop an exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Each case is different, and each individual has different loading capacities & functional requirements.

If you’re not sure how to start our team at Enhanced Movement can provide some insight on based on your current clinical presentation – simply call EMEP on 1300 364 262 Today!